Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Too Old to Move

I cannot imagine leaving Los Angeles.

And not because I love it, which I do.

It’s just that, the older you get, the more difficult it is to make friends.

Remember how easy it was back in childhood? All you needed was a common age, and the deal was sealed.

Are you six? Me too! Let’s go play!

Can you imagine doing that at an adult age?

Hi! Are you fifty-three? Me too! Let’s have lunch!

Ain’t gonna happen.

When my then-husband and I moved to L.A., back in May 1990, it never occurred to me that I was leaving behind some well-established friendships and that I would have to start all over again. Sure, I had a few people out here who I knew, and among them were two I knew quite well, but… that’s barely a starter set.

Looking back at several of my early L.A. friends – people I thought I’d be close to for a long time – I realize that I was going through a process, and I would have to get to the end of that process before I would find the folks who were likely to last.

I remember a co-worker at my first staff job out here. We’ll call her Sheila. I’d been at the nonprofit organization for about a year before she got a position there. Our then-friendship is such ancient history at this point that I cannot explain the “attraction,” but I do remember always feeling as if she and I were both Hayley Mills, playing some equally misbehaving girls in a prep school movie…

I grew out of Sheila before I left the place where we both worked, and a few years later, I was at another nonprofit.

There, I became friends with two women, both of whom were a bit younger than I. We’ll call them Dee and Dora. I bonded with both of them, and we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. Again, I felt I had embarked on some friendships that would last. But they didn’t pan out as I had expected, and in retrospect, my memory of the times I spent with each or both of them centered around a certain amount of righteousness. A desire to be correct.

Interesting.

With Sheila, I was reliving my adolescence.

With Dee and Dora, I was reliving my twenties.

I was 32 when I arrived in Los Angeles, and I was too new to that decade to know what it meant.

Where friendships were concerned, I had to back up.

I had to start over.

I had to relive a few stages of interactive behavior before I would find the comfort of my present. I had to work through a new growth so that I could reach the moment when I began to know who I was and how I needed to be treated.

That moment began in my mid-40s.

In terms of friendships, I’ve been in the comfort zone ever since.

12 comments:

Jules said...

It is funny how we assume folks are here to stay when in reality they are just the preview. And I'm right there with you too old to move :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

BECKY said...

Hey Katie! I don't think YOU would ever be too old to move, or to make friends! I can't imagine it whatsoever! And, I have discovered new friends, in my "older" age, mostly due to my writing....groups, critiques, book stores, etc! If you move here, I'll be your BFF!! :D

Deb Shucka said...

I so get the too old to move thing, mostly because of the energy it now takes to do anything new. I wonder, though, if some friendships won't continue to come and go just because you grow in different directions. Just from reading your blog, it seems to me you wouldn't have any trouble connecting with new people. :-)

Martha Gates-Mawson said...

I had a mouthful of water when I read the "Hi! Are you fifty-three? Me too! Let’s have lunch!" Thank goodness I aimed the emerging spray away from the keyboard! It is strange - when I think about people I thought I'd be friends with forever and now I don't even know where they are. Then there is one friend I've known and loved dearly for 40 years. The friends we've known since childhood are the treasures... They have loved us through all our "stages."

cj Schlottman said...

Katie,

As you know, lately I have been examining my friendships. The last time I made a new friend, a real friend, was in 1996. Yes, it is more difficult to make new friends as we age. What I called a "friend filter" in my recent post about friendship has become - for me - more acutely developed as I have aged. Now, in my sixties, I look more for shared values more than shared interests. I agree with Martha that our childhood friends, by virtue of their having lasted all these years, are treasures.

Move? Clutch the pearls! The very idea makes my mouth dry and my heart race. I expect to move when my body is taken to the funeral parlor for cremation.

As always, I applaud your great writing skills and your willingness to share your truths.

Namaste.........cj

irishoma said...

Very thought-provoking.
Your post made me think about my mother-in-law, who emigrated to America from Germany when she was in her fifties. She had a rough time adjusting, not just to living in a new country, but also to learning a new language, but she had a beautiul smile and a lot of energy and managed to make a few friends.

Zella said...

I love the previous comment :)

I've relocated a few times in my adulthood due to my work, and have always made good friends in every location. I'm 43 now, just recently quit my job and am moving abroad, again, to start a whole new career...and to make new friends. I do think it is possible :)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Oops...let me try again. When I was a kid we moved quite a bit, and I never minded starting over. The excitement of new beginnings, I suppose. After my husband and I married we moved every year or two (he was in the hotel business). But now, at 50, I'm content to stay put. With only a few exceptions, my friends have been friends for two decades. I wouldn't be afraid to start over--new beginnings still excite me--but the thought of leaving my friends is painful. We've been pregnant together, raised our kids and watched them head off to college together. We've literally grown up together ourselves, from our 20s into our 40s and 50s. I don't want to lose that sisterhood.

Linda Medrano said...

I don't think you are ever too old to move or make friends. I don't have a lot of friends, but the ones I have I cherish. Two women are friends from childhood, some (not many) are people I knew as neighbors or work situations. I find the least dependable friendships occur when I've worked with people. As long as we have the workplace in common, we have a friendship. It usually doesn't transcend that.

Lazarus said...

Great post Katie, and interesting insights, something I hadn't thought of. It's clear from reading your blog that you love L.A. (when you don't hate it that is!) and there probably is no good reason for you to move. Plus, it's a good place to be for giving interviews, etc. once your talent gets discovered!

Jayne Martin said...

I still have friends that go back to high school even though I've moved several times since then. Making friends has never been difficult for me. I've always been blessed with an abundance of truly amazing people in my life. Go figure...